Bayern return to Bundesliga summit with Liverpool looming
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BERLIN – Bayern Munich warmed up for Liverpool with a “perfect day” by knocking Borussia Dortmund from the top of the Bundesliga for the first time since September with a 6-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Bayern, who host Liverpool on Wednesday in their Champions League, last 16, return leg clash after a goalless draw at Anfield, went top on goal difference from Dortmund, who needed late goals to win 3-1 at home to Stuttgart.
“I’m very pleased. We want to be just as focused on Wednesday,” said Bayern head coach Niko Kovac.
Bayern ran riot in Munich as Robert Lewandowski scored twice, leaving him with 20 goals in 17 league games against Wolfsburg, while Serge Gnabry, James Rodriguez and Joshua Kimmich also netted.
“We are now where we want to be – first in the table and that’s where we want to stay,” added Kovac with nine rounds of league games left.
Having been told on Tuesday, along with Bayern team-mates Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, that his Germany career is over, Mueller took out his frustration, setting up the first goal and scoring Munich’s second.
“The three wanted to give a response and they all played well – it was a perfect afternoon,” said goal-scorer Kimmich.
Gnabry gave Bayern the lead on 34 minutes at the Allianz Arena by tapping home Mueller’s cross, then turned provider three minutes later when he served up a simple tap in for Lewandowski to make it 2-0.
Rodriguez, thriving in the attacking midfield role, got on the scoresheet when his superb 52nd-minute shot hit the top corner.
Having set up the first goal, Mueller showed Germany head coach Joachim Loew what he is missing by wrong-footing Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels to score with his heel on 76 minutes.
Kimmich scored with a header on 82 minutes and Lewandowski claimed his second by guiding his header into the far corner three minutes later.
Lewandowski, the top-scoring foreigner in Bundesliga history with 197 goals, has now scored in each of his last seven games against Wolfsburg, who he single-handedly battered in 2015 with five goals in just nine minutes.
In Dortmund, late goals by Paco Alcacer and Chelsea-bound Christian Pulisic saw off dogged Stuttgart, but Borussia are now second after 23 weeks on top.
“I don’t care about who is top now,” said Dortmund captain Marco Reus.
“It only matters who is top at the end and everything is still open.”
The win, only Dortmund’s second in their last nine games, was vital to stay level on 57 points with Bayern.
Despite some dogged Stuttgart defending, Dortmund took the lead at Signal Iduna Park when Reus netted a penalty on 62 minutes.
The lead lasted just nine minutes as Stuttgart’s Marc-Oliver Kempf headed home unmarked.
However, Alcacer calmed nerves when the Spanish striker stabbed home on 84 minutes after a goal-mouth scramble.
The third goal came when Axel Witsel beat three defenders, played Mario Goetze into the box to set up Pulisic, who netted in stoppage time.
“They parked a gigantic bus (in front of goal) – it was hard to find the holes,” complained Dortmund coach Lucien Favre.
“We tried everything and managed it, we ran a lot and defended a lot, but all in all, the win was deserved.”
Third-placed RB Leipzig were held to a goalless draw at home by Augsburg, who beat Dortmund last Friday and went down fighting against Bayern last month.
Mid-table Hertha Berlin crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Freiburg after the visitors captain Vedad Ibisevic cancelled out a Nils Petersen goal, but then scored an own-goal by turning the ball into the Berlin net.
Later, Borussia Moenchengladbach bounced back from last weekend’s 5-1 thumping at home to Bayern with a 1-0 win at mid-table Mainz, thanks to a second-half goal from defender Nico Elvedi.
Gladbach stay fourth, level on 47 points with Leipzig, and both clubs lag nine points behind new leaders Bayern and Dortmund.